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Graduate Student Highlight: Olivia Peduzzi

1 September 2021
Olivia Peduzzi

Each week, the Department of Chemistry highlights a graduate student who is doing interesting and exciting work within the department. In this installment of our highlight series, we are featuring Olivia Peduzzi, who is a second-year student in the Boal group.

Olivia studies ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), an essential enzyme that plays a key role in making the building blocks of DNA. She is working on identifying and characterizing the active cofactor for a novel subclass of RNR.

Outside of the lab, Olivia is an outreach delegate for the Chemistry Graduate Student Association (GSA) and has worked over the past year on the Virtual Scientist initiative. She is looking forward to becoming more involved in the community in future outreach events.

This week, we met virtually with Olivia to discuss her life in and outside of the lab! Please enjoy our interview with Olivia Peduzzi.
Question: What inspires you as a scientist? 
Having a basic understanding of science can benefit us in many ways, but people can be intimidated by the complexity or ‘black box’ aspect of it and then aren’t able to learn the important fundamentals. I am inspired to learn how to communicate the importance of science to everyone in a way that helps them understand it and use it to make the world a better place.  
Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Making it through my first year of grad school in the middle of a pandemic. Starting this new chapter can throw anyone for a loop in normal times, so with the shutdown added into the mix I am definitely glad to have figured out enough to get through the year.
Q: Why did you decide to come to Penn State?
I had done an REU here in 2019 and loved it so much that I had to come back for grad school ?
Q: Where did you grow up?
I was actually born very close to State College in Altoona PA, but grew up mostly in Lancaster PA, which for one day on September 27, 1777 was the nation’s capital!
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
I love to dance, play trivia, play ultimate frisbee, teach yoga, and have recently picked up learning pickleball!
Q: Do you have any pets?
None of my own, but I live vicariously through my parents and siblings to have three dogs and a cat.
Q: What’s your favorite way to spend a day off? 
Going on a long walk or bike ride and then coming home and trying out a new dinner recipe. 
Q: What’s your dream vacation?
Going to Mexico to see the monarch butterfly migration.
Q: If you could have dinner with anybody (living or dead), who would it be and why? (And what would you eat?) 
Paul McCartney, I would love to hear his stories about going from being a teenager who would perform in random pubs in Liverpool to becoming one of the biggest musical and cultural icons of a generation. We would probably eat veggie burgers because he’s vegan. 
Bonus Question: Do you have any fun science trivia to share? 
Mars’ atmosphere is one hundred times thinner than Earth’s and can’t experience strong wind storms. So, while the rest of the space-traveling and terra-forming science in the book/movie The Martian holds up, the whole premise of the storm that strands Mark Whatney (aka Matt Damon) on Mars isn’t possible!
Thanks to Olivia for these interesting and thoughtful answers! We hope you enjoyed this interview. Stay tuned for more graduate student highlights in the weeks to come!